Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Why Runners Should "Keep it Real"

After I posted yesterday about my race fail from Sunday aka my first ever DNF, the floodgates of support opened. I was overwhelmed and touched by all the messages I received from other runners, readers, and followers. It's humbling and it's amazing how much we all care about each other. One comment that I received multiple times and that stood out to me was: "thanks for keeping it real."

I never gave it much thought that so many people aren't "keeping it real". When I think about it, though, keeping it real is probably the exception rather than the rule. Fitspo? Curated feeds? Humble brags?



Regular readers know I always "keep it real" here on my blog. If I've learned nothing else in life, I've learned this--as much as we think our experiences are unique, there is someone else out there who has gone through the same thing. I grew up with a mother whose goal in life was to fit in. Whenever I would voice insecurities or something random to her, her response was always: "I've never heard of that". What a way to make me feel like a weirdo. As a young girl trying to form her own identity, it's no wonder that I was lacking in the confidence to be me. Instead of embracing individuality, conformity and perfection were the goals--two things that I failed miserably at. I was an awkward and uncomfortable young adult trying to be someone I was not. It took me years to shed that image.

You know you've always wanted to do this. I just did it for you.
My mom still pulls out the "I've never heard that" comment--no matter what we are talking about. Now, instead of being intimidated, I roll my eyes. If she saw some of the pictures I shared on social media, she'd probably be mortified. I have confidence and life experience that allows me to stand up to her. Instead of fitting in, I'm standing out. I'm comfortable enough in my own skin to say what's on my mind and share my failures as much as my wins. Maybe I lean too much towards the oversharing department, but I figure that there has to be someone out there who's been there, done that too. Beth Risdon from Shut Up and Run made it ok to talk about GI issues on the run and believe it or not, that made me realize that I wasn't the only one with this problem. Maybe this isn't such a big deal to you all, but growing up in a house where we didn't talk about "personal problems" and where "fart" was a swear word, this was liberating to me. How sad is that? I wouldn't even run with other people for fear of "that" happening on the run. I still won't wear white shorts, though.

It's not what you think. It was just a really tough speedwork session and I needed to catch my breath.
Is there anything better than someone saying to you, "that's happened to me too"?

That's why it's so important for all of us on social media to portray our real selves. Social media has upped the comparison game and made it tougher for us to be true to who we are. We all have those Facebook friends who seem to have the perfect life. It always seems that when I'm having a bad day or I'm upset with one of my boys, a certain woman in my neighborhood posts a picture of her teenagers hugging her with the hashtag "blessed". A lot of fitness bloggers do the same thing--posting their great workouts, PR race results, and their successes. In reality, we know that no one has a perfect life or always runs a perfect race. My fails seem to get at least as many views, if not more, than my regular posts! My RA journey has brought me more support than I could have hoped for. The key is to keep it positive, even when keeping it real. No one needs to read a rant about someone's ex-husband or a self-pitying post about how bad their life is. Someone always has it worse and that's important to keep in mind. There's a fine line between keeping it real and airing your dirty laundry.

After my diagnosis with RA. It was a tough, sad run.
There is on social media an amazing community of "real" women runners that support each other. This "real runner" community started with Dimity and Sarah from Another Mother Runner but has inspired so many of us to share our own journeys.Yesterday reminded me of how wonderful this community truly is. Marcia from Marcia's Healthy Slice, who is always the voice of reason, completely validated my feeling that pushing myself to finish a 10k when I was feeling bad just wasn't worth it. Instead of spending the day beating myself up, you guys all lifted me up and made me realize that not only was it ok to fail, it was ok to share my fail. After all, I could have just posted the picture of Steph and me and put in a caption or a quote. No one would have been the wiser. That's not my style.

The infamous frosty runner picture that made the AMR page! 
If I wasn't real, if I was just interested in curating an image and promoting myself, I wouldn't have made all the wonderful connections that I have through this blog. When I started my blog, my goals were to share my running story and connect with other women runners. I never dreamed so much good would come from this little space. By keeping things real, we all learn from each other. By keeping it real, we're building each other up. By keeping things real, we make everyone around us better. Instead of trying to be something you're not, be who you are. Running is not always pretty. Running is real.


What do you like to see on social media? What inspires you to be your best self? Thank you all for your kind words of support and for sticking with me here on the blog! 

I'm linking up with Tuesdays on the Run: Marcia, Erika, and Patti; Deb Runs for Wednesday Word, which fittingly is "improve"; and Coaches' Corner: Debbie, Lara, Susie, and Rachel.




76 comments :

  1. I love this Wendy. To me you are a very genuine runner, blogger, PERSON.

    I am pretty much only real on my blog and social media. But sometimes I think that's my downfall. I think fitspo and humblebrags actually help create a presence online and that attracts a lot of people. I don't have any of that. I'm just me, I'm slow, I'm "fat" (I'm not fat, I'm overweight), I'm constantly playing the same damn record. That's ok though. Knowing you and a few others out there helps me know that it's ok to just be me.

    The funny thing is, the ones who fitspo and humblebrag so much, who want to be such an inspiration to others, they don't do much for me. I'll take the real ones over the others any day.

    (To be clear, many bloggers from the weekly wrap do inspire me because they are real, I am just real enough to say I can't keep up with the linkups and therefore don't think it's fair if I participate. Thank you for being one of the good ones in any case :) )

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    1. I'll never get the sponsors or the big names coming to my blog--they are all about image. Oh well. I'd rather be true to who I am. That whole image thing doesn't work so well for me! Thanks for reading.

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  2. Oh my gosh - people that always pretend like nothing unpleasant has ever happened to them drive me crazy! So unrelatable!

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    1. There is so much of that, though, and it's amazing how much attention they get.

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  3. Thank you for keeping it real and for sharing your journey. I actually have a friend who was just diagnosed with RA and I pointed her here. We all have challenges in life and I have to remind myself that even if all appears perfect in someone's life, there's often a challenge they may not be sharing. Keep on keeping on, my friend.

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    1. Thanks for spreading the love. I never wanted to be the RA runner, but if I can inspire others to push through this disease, I'm glad to wear the hat!

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  4. In social media, it's easy to be fake. At the end of the day though, we know who's real and who's posing. Sadly many times brands do not. That's why I pay attention to how brands behave on social media and spend my money accordingly. Maybe it doesn't matter but it would if we all did it. Just keep on being you. That's where the fun is. Fitting in is so over-rated.

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    1. 100% agree and you know that. I'm proud to represent brands that want the real face of running! I just gotta be me.

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  5. I think the most inspiring stories on social media relate to pushing through things that suck. When I first came across your blog you shared (discretely) about struggles with your kids and I felt like I finally found someone who knew what I was going through. (Most of my friends' kids are still in elementary school or middle school.) Keeping it real is how we form real bonds.

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    1. I'd never throw my kids under the bus by sharing details, but I'm sure I disappointed some people. Those posts were about my struggles with the boys' issues. It was never about them. I'm so glad you got that. We're all in this together!

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  6. I love seeing people keeping it real on social media, and I can often spot the people that do NOT do this. I feel like life is hard and messy and our social media needs to reflect that.

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    1. I think that's why we've all found each other. We know what kind of peeps we want to hang with!

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  7. Well spoken (as usual)! I have ZERO respect for the ra-ra types who are always self-promoting their "awesome" feats and adventures (while carefully leaving out the reality of their failures or short-comings). I think most people can spot them...eventually. Like you, my recent surgery was pretty traumatic, and I was overwhelmed with so much support & encouragement from others. They weren't celebrating my setback, but giving me the hugs and high-5's to help me through it. (and, obviously, YOU were a major player in my cheering section) ;-) #keepingitreal is a hashtag I use often...I don't believe in hiding behind a mask either ;-)

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    1. I think it's so important to show everyone that not everything is perfect. Unfortunately, not everyone feels that way.

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  8. Love how real you are Wendy! Isn't it amazing how blogging brings people together!

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  9. That was exactly my comment on your Sunday post. You could have kept the DNF to yourself and moved on, but you OWNED it. That's why I and so many others keep coming back. You may remember when I was thinking about starting a blog, I kept reading others and stumbled upon yours. I just kept coming back. I loved your sarcasm and especially the fact that you were keeping it real! I e-mailed you and you responded right away, and have welcomed me into this little corner of the world. I've learned so much by reading your blog as well as some of the others, and like several have already said, you can spot the phonies and the fakers a mile away. No thanks.

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    1. Yep, when we meet (and there will be a when), it will be like we've known each other forever!

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  10. It was so helpful when I was new to running to hear from people who talked about the setbacks as well as the triumphs! That's one of the reasons that I keep posting my times. I'm super slow but that's ok and getting out there and just moving is important :) I really appreciate you "keeping it real" :)

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    1. When I started reading blogs and following other runners on social media, it was a whole new world for me! Instead of feeling like the weirdo who runs, I found people who "got me". No matter how you run, you are a runner. It's a great tribe!

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  11. Love this: "keep it positive while keeping it real." You do a great job doing exactly that! Our parents' generation dealt with life differently. My mom preferred "no news is good news," and during the last few months of her life regularly told me, "I'm fine." I prefer knowing when they are sick or going to the doctor instead of finding out about a quadruple by-pass after the fact. (True story about my FIL)

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    1. My parents are really all about sugar coating things. It's ridiculous, really. My mom still shushes me when she thinks I've crossed a line.

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  12. It makes me laugh because I got that comment a lot too and I mostly thought...what else would I do? Pretend I'm not injured? Tell you I finished instead of crumpled on the side in pain??

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    1. Apparently! I'm pretty sure there are runners who do that, just as there are runners who cut a course short. I don't know how those people live with themselves, but I guess if all you care about is your image, then you start to believe your own myth.

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  13. I was just having a similar conversation with a friend about my feelings of 'meh' towards social media lately. Maybe it's because I've been down this injury rabbit hole that I can't get out of and everyone else seems to be thriving. My friend pointed out what we all know - not everyone has a great day in life and running. It's up to us to keep it real. And that's what I like about you Wendy!

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    1. I actually thought about you as I wrote this post--you do a GREAT job of keeping it real but staying positive. You just keep on keeping on.

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  14. It is hard to keep it real when so many SM posts don't. I do still feel self-conscious about my times, but I was never Speedy Gonzalez anyway, and I don't run for a living. I have a desk job, my body is injury prone, and there's that darn ITBS I have to negotiate with.

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    1. You've got nothing to worry about! Just keep doing your thing.

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  15. I love the story of your mom! If my mother would ever see me running on my sports bra, she would tell me to cover up... and I would just roll my eyes too.

    Keep on keeping on!

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    1. My mom is actually coming around! My trip to see Holly and our waterskiing pics really made her excited. It helped that she met Holly when we ran Door County in May.

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  16. Real is where it's at - it shows that there's a place for everyone in the running world, and that you make it work in many different ways. I stopped posting my splits a long time ago because I felt like my accomplishment was running, no matter how fast or how slow. I was traveling when I read your DNF post and didn't comment, but will now: hey, it happens. We're not robots; sometimes you just have to call it. It's all good!

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    1. I should stop posting my splits but I've still got those competitive juices in me. I'm not ready to call it quits on racing yet!

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  17. I'm still trying to figure out my mom (and my brother). We couldn't say a bad word, appearances mattered, and when I was a teenager I gave everyone the big ol' bird!! Haha. I was an asshole. But at least I was me.

    I try to keep it real for my readers. I hope I do. Thanks for keeping it real here for us!!

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    1. You do a great job of being you and I know when we meet (next spring, right? aren't we doing a trail race in Wisconsin?) it will be like old friends.

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    2. Yes! Is it spring? Let's discuss!!!

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  18. There are definitely bloggers (or Instagramers) -- runners and otherwise -- who don't keep it real. Social media makes that super easy. I may sometimes have a tendency to overshare but there's also a lot I don't talk about on the blog. But what is on my blog comes from my heart, always, and you really can't go wrong with that.

    I think it's important to share both the successes and the failures. Because we always learn something from our failures, and it often will make someone else -- someone we may never hear from or know -- feel better about theirselves.

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    1. I like to think that no matter what I share, there's someone out there that I'll strike a cord with!

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  19. Yes, I absolutely agree! Part of the reason i enjoy blogging and reading other blogs is we find others who struggle with the same things we do. While no one wants o struggle it always helps to know you're not alone.

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    1. 100% agree. That's why I started reading blogs!

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  20. Absolutely- I want the whole package, not just the highlights and successes. Thanks for sharing your journey as a young girl ... I've been thinking about this lately with my 12 year old niece here this weekend, wondering if there is a way to avoid all that awkwardness and self doubt, but I think it's just a part of the journey we have to go through!

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    1. I saw my boys go through the awkward stage, although my youngest just slid through. My oldest? Not so much. I just made sure not to make him feel more self conscious about it.

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  21. I know this isn't the point of the blog post at all but Drop Zone is pretty much the best porta potty company name ever!

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    1. It was just begging for a selfie! Right?

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  22. I love this and I love you! I started blogging to try to inspire others and to be surrounded by like minded women who were all on the same journey ...different places along the journey, but the same journey. I could care less about the brand endorsements and such. Sure, they're nice, but if it comes at a cost of pretending to be something I'm not then I'm not interested. That's what everyone loves about you Wendy ...you are transparent with your humanity. Thank you for being YOU, unapologetically you! ������

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    1. I hope that my transparency inspires others to be equally transparent. That's all!

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  23. I love the little running community you have described and feel so appreciative to be a part of it. I know that whatever happens out there good and bad we are there for each other. I love your honesty always and thanks for being you.

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    1. You've got a really nice little group out there in DC--I'm always envious of your pictures! We're both lucky there's so much support out there.

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  24. Oh my gosh. I read this and think runners and humans. Runners and humans. We all would benefit if we could all simply shed every façade and just be real

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  25. We all know that I keep it R E A L. I just can't do it any other way!

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  26. I love this so much! The fact that you keep it real is one of the reasons I love your blog so much.

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    1. I appreciate all your support--it makes me feel like I"m doing the right thing!

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  27. social media and all the external pressures make it hard to truly be "real". it's a breath of fresh air when someone actually is! keep up the good work :)

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    1. As much as I'd love all the campaigns and sponsors, I have to be true to myself. I'm glad there are people who agree!

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  28. I would so much follow a real person who shares the good and the bad, rather than just the good. I know my life isn't perfect and, while I don't share ALL of it (okay, so lately, I have been sharing more than normal but that's good for me), what I do share is my truth. I love that you are honest. Your words and strength are amazing motivators. Don't stop being you! And my mom is a piece of work too - she's very "open mouth insert foot" and everything is always her fault and she's the worst mom ever. *sigh*

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    1. My mom wasn't the worst mom, in fact, she was and still is pretty good--but she was hard on me and as a result, my confidence was low. Now she's my biggest supporter. Who knew? My kids will probably say the same thing about me.

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  29. I love this! I really appreciate honesty and keeping it real. I've been thanked countless times for sharing the bad and the good with my running, pregnancy and postpartum journey. We're all a mess in some ways, so we just need to embrace it!

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    1. Ha! Best comment! We are all messes, at least in one way, right?

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  30. This.right.here. This is why I love your blog! You always keep it real, and even more than that, you DON'T "humblebrag" about your speedy times and distances! I read a lot of blogs, and it can be discouraging when it's always "this was such a slog" and that is the pace that I DREAM of doing! You don't do that! You encourage and inspire me with each and every post. If I could give you a standing ovation, I would! Thank you for always keepin' it real!

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    1. You just made my week with this comment and if I didn't have such a crappy week, I would have commented earlier! Thanks for all your support, Shawn! When are we going to meet?

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  31. I wish more people would keep it real. Life is not always sunshine and roses. Those who don't keep it real online are so much harder to relate to, and to be honest, I don't enjoy following their story.

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    1. Right there with you on that. Running isn't easy and it isn't always pretty. But when it is, please, by all means, tell us how great it is!

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  32. Yes!! This is such a great post. I love that you are standing out instead of fitting in. As a child, I was always the "odd" one and I didn't quite gel with the mainstream. Now I embrace it! I'm glad your blog is so real and you are proud of who you are.

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    1. I was just thinking about this today. I'm glad I found something that makes me feel good. Odd duck and all.

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  33. Just keep being you Wendy! It's too bad that there are so many that are more interested in portraying a certain image vs. just being who they are imperfections and all. You can't make a connection with an image, right?!

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    1. I don't know, but it seems like a lot of folks are out there trying to create their "brand"!

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  34. 200% YES to all of this!! You know I keep it as real as possible because otherwise, what is the point? I grew up similarly where we didn't talk about personal problems and had pet names for body parts and poop - how weird is that?? I have loved your space from day one b/c you are 100% YOU and never think twice about being anything else. The outpouring of comments you get on a daily basis are a testament to what you have built on your honesty and openness. Thank you for sharing YOU with us, all the time. We are #blessed to have you :-)

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    1. I know you do--your burnout and posts on taking a break really hit a chord with me. I love that you share your triumphs as well as your tribulations. I think that's why we have a bond, even though I'll never be the athlete that you are. We're all out there pushing our hardest and keeping it real is the way to do it!

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  35. Nicely said, Wendy. I couldn't imagine not sharing a DNF because there's a good chance one of my readers can gain something from it. Like when you post about potty issues, I know I'm not alone. ;-)

    Thanks for linking up!

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    1. I don't ever want to be the only one with those issues...misery loves company, right?

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  36. Your sincerity and realistic approach to things keep me reading your blog posts regularly, Wendy! Keep up the awesome work!

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